People before politics

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Political maturity isn’t something you can buy, it is achieved

 

 

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Credit goes to Shakespeare for putting it so beautifully, though in our neck of the woods, like many things other, this quote loses its meaning. We have been known to cheer for the head that deserves no crown while jeering at the one that deserves it. This affliction is not limited to the public alone which can be forgiven for the mistake — whether they deserve forgiveness for an affliction they ask for themselves remains a separate question to be answered — it is the relatively more educated and politically active class that makes not knowing the difference between what is right and what is wrong, who to support and who to criticise, when to stand up for their rights and when to perform their obligations unquestioningly, a mockery of the idea of a nation.

Despite pre-election claims of an overthrow of archaic economic policies, throwing away of the begging bowl, keeping prices of commodities in check, putting an end to hikes in power and fuel tariffs, a reduction in load shedding and an improvement in general law and order situation, the PML-N government has not done anything substantial it promised to do. Granted the government didn’t have enough time to settle in – and that’s being lenient; ideally it should have been ready to tackle any or all of the problems before taking on the reins – it still seems confused on a number of issues, mainly law and order, terrorism, monetary and fiscal policy, allegations of corruption and rigging in elections, social uplift, poverty alleviation, women emancipation and universally accepted fundamental rights of health and education. Instead of getting down to business, the federal government has been found to be busy in offering lip service, exactly what you would get when you don’t have fully functional or well developed institutions.

Instead of considering politics some gameplay whose plots and contours therein are beyond the understanding of mere mortals, what every man with conscience should do is hold responsible the very politician he voted for when he fails to deliver on the promises he made during his election campaign.

Instead of considering politics some gameplay whose plots and contours therein are beyond the understanding of mere mortals, what every man with conscience should do is hold responsible the very politician he voted for when he fails to deliver on the promises he made during his election campaign. A vast majority of Pakistanis consider politics dirty and politicians dirty old men who when not busy in corruption and plundering the country are found busy in other such despicable activities. For them the politicians are reprehensible, wicked men who would often connive together to achieve their ignoble purposes. How our particular brand of politicians has acted over the past more than six decades hasn’t helped to do away with this impression, instead it has been cemented over and over again.

Unless we take politics as an institute, there is no chance we can undo this conundrum. Is politics necessary? Yes. Does it have to be this murky and maligned? No. Is there a way out of this? Yes. Does it mean we would see ‘any less of politics’? No, it would actually bring in more politics. The problem isn’t with the whole crop; it is with the weed that has grown in so heavily that it has started eating up on the useful part too. We just need to weed out what’s ailing the system, and to that end there is no better place to start than questioning every move of your respective political representative, be he in the government or the opposition. Hold him responsible for everything, for the legislation on women rights he missed voting on, for the terror attack on a mosque, an imambargah, or a church at the corner of your street, for every hike in power tariff, for every hour of load shedding, for every minor girl being raped, for mullahs’ seemingly innocuous indifference towards DNA tests that can make a substantial difference in determining liability in rape cases, for the dilapidated conditions of roads in your area, for every life taken by dengue, measles, fake medicines and lack of medical facilities in hospitals, for not providing impregnable security defences to citizens, for letting terrorists gain sanctuaries within country’s territory, for letting Pakistan become “one of the most dangerous places in the world”, and most of all for not fulfilling the oath they take so solemnly every five years or so.

Politics is an institute and we should treat it as such. It is nothing alien; it has evolved out of social and human needs. Like any other institution, it must follow certain set of norms to function properly, and when those norms – that should ideally be converted into concrete laws over time – aren’t followed, there must be consequences.

Yes, it does sound like a tough calling but this is exactly what we need to make progress politically. And no, the politicians are not that bad; a certain politician may be petty, another may be illiterate about how parliamentary democratic system works, and yet another may be in for just himself. However, this doesn’t automatically qualify them to be rejected outright. Instead, this calls for the public to play their part in making them accountable for their each and every action and even stricter adherence to the rule of law.

Politics is an institute and we should treat it as such. It is nothing alien; it has evolved out of social and human needs. Like any other institution, it must follow certain set of norms to function properly, and when those norms – that should ideally be converted into concrete laws over time – aren’t followed, there must be consequences. And who better to hold politicians in check than the ones who empower them to amount to something: the people. They are the ones who should feel the burden of the crown, for every action by the one who wears the crown ultimately affects those who crowned him in the first place.

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